Museum of the American Revolution-Philadelphia
The spring of 2017 held the grand opening of the much-anticipated and most recent museum to grace the streets of Old City, Philadelphia…the Museum of the American Revolution. Strategically located on the corner of Chestnut and 3rd Streets, the museum explores a subject rich with historical significance to the city of Brotherly Love. Upon exiting the museum, you can literally walk two blocks to Independence Hall and see the place where the official start of the war for independence was declared.
My husband and I jumped on an opportunity to check it out a few weeks back when he was tasked with picking his parents up from the Philadelphia Airport after their European trip. After coordinating childcare for the day, we sent out early in the morning, arriving soon after it opened. We decided we wanted to slowly and deliciously savor a museum trip without impatient, rowdy children…carefully reading every inscription, absorbing the enormous amount of information thoughtfully. Apparently, my mind has taken on the tendencies of a child and I found myself after the first several exhibits starting to breeze through the information, picking and choosing what I was going to focus on. By the end of our visit, I felt completely overwhelmed with all the pieces of the story of the American Revolution, which are complex and multi-faceted, and it felt disjointed and unclear in my mind. It helped that I have been reading (albeit extremely slowly with the lack of focused reading time I have) “Battle for Bunker Hill” by Nathaniel Philbrick. I realized after this experience that I learn best in a linear style written as a story rather than a circular style, visually displayed. I felt I had learned more from reading the book than touring the museum. All that to say, whether or not you enjoy this museum may be based on your learning style. Funny, because when I study the map of the museum, the walking path is in chronological order and makes sense, I just did not experience it that way.
Originally I had envisioned taking my older children to the museum since they both have covered the topic of the American Revolution in school, but having visited, I’m not sure they would have enjoyed it. Perhaps they would be better suited to covering small pieces of history at other popular sites in Philadelphia such as the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the Ben Franklin Museum where the topic is more focused and narrow. If you have a particularly studious child that likes history, they may enjoy it.
Upon entering the spacious and brightly lit lobby, visitors can purchase tickets and gain helpful information at the welcome desk. The recommended starting point is the Lenfest Meyer Theater on the first floor for an introductory film on the American Revolution and the significance of the city of Philadelphia. The first floor also contains an attractive café and a well-proportioned gift shop with interesting Revolution-themed memorabilia along with the standard Philadelphia keepsakes.
Ascend the majestic grand staircase to the second floor to begin your tour. The museum is a series of small rooms, each with its own theme helping to tell the story of the American Revolution. Visitors are introduced to the colonies under British rule, the emergence of American liberties and Declaration of Independence, the various battles and struggles of the war, including skirmishes at sea, the march to the South, independence, and the beginnings of a new nation. The exhibits are text-heavy using several methods of delivery including high-tech interactive screens. Artifacts are a part of the exhibits including some highly-prized original pieces such as Washington’s tent and his blue hair ribbon. The museum puts a new twist on traditional dioramas by combining them with new technologies employing audio, visual, and sensory elements to the displays, which the modern visitor has come to expect.
At the end of the day, I felt a deep sense of awe and gratitude for those who have come before, paving the way for me to enjoy the freedoms and prosperity of our United States of America. Albeit, a little discomforting to realize the enjoyment of those things have also come at a great price for our African-American ancestors as well as the Native Americans who first enjoyed this land. Coming to terms with all aspects of history is helpful in shaping our current views on politics and people. So for that, the trip to the Museum of the American Revolution was worth the trip and one more chance to expand my knowledge of American history.
Admission: $19/adults, $12/children 6-17, FREE/children 5 and under, $2 DISCOUNT for military, seniors, students, and teachers.
Hours: 10AM-5PM Daily, Museum store and café hours are slightly different
Museum of the American Revolution
101 South 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
1 (877) 740-1776
Please visit www.amrevmuseum.org for more information!